David Game College’s Strategic Approach to tackling COVID-19
Back in early March, the College set up a subcommittee of the existing Risk Committee and termed it the COVID-19 Risk Committee. This was headed by all the main Heads of Department and the Senior Management and Leadership team. It had a specific and clear brief – to ensure that the College produced and maintained a COVID-safe environment and that all necessary hygiene, social distancing and technology measures were in place, as well as the management of suspected cases and an outbreak plan.
As part of this, in late March the College swiftly and successfully transferred all learning remotely via Zoom and a full curriculum was delivered until June. Since the start of the next academic year i.e. September 2020, the whole curriculum can be accessed through live streaming, which has proven to effective and well received by those self-isolating or abroad.
The College officially re-opened in August 2020 and since then it has operated normally with a high efficacy and attendance rate. In essence, irrespective of national lockdowns, David Game College is open for education and intends to remain open for both physical and e-based operations. Students and staff feedback and audits have thus far been extremely positive.
The College has made a number of important adjustments to its operations based on policy guidance from the Covid-19 Risk Committee. Some of the key elements are highlighted and explained below:
Hygiene and social distancing measures and controls:
- Use of infrared thermometers
- Extensive use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers
- Enhanced daily continuous cleaning of the College common areas and classrooms
- Use of fogging equipment
- Use of face masks in common areas of the college
- Control of traffic flow – one-way systems
- Reconfiguration of classrooms and identifying class capacity, taking into account social distancing
- General enforced social distancing measures
- Ventilation ensured throughout the College
- PPE equipment available
- Use of plastic shields
Using infrared thermometers, temperature checks are made on all those entering the building. This technique was decided upon after careful consideration of some of the drawbacks of using thermal imaging cameras which were highlighted by the WHO. In addition, all visitors must sanitise their hands upon arrival and are asked to do this at specific stations that have been set up around the College. Enhanced cleaning is taking place daily and the College has invested in state-of-the-art fogging equipment to ensure deeper cleaning of all aspects of the College. All students and staff are required to wear face masks in all the common areas of the College and many also can elect to wear them within classrooms; some exemptions are also recognised.
In addition to the use of face masks to halt the spread of the virus through social proximity engagement, all staff and students are reminded of the necessity to maintain social distance at all times and in all circumstances. The College has a single entrance/exit system in place and extensive one-way systems are in place around the College. Using social distancing measures, all classrooms have had their safe Covid capacities worked out and displayed on the classroom door. Students are required to clean their work surfaces at the end of lessons, and windows are kept open in classrooms and on corridors to ensure adequate ventilation. All staff have access to a range of PPE, such as face visors, masks, surgical gloves and gowns. The College cleaning company has also been trained in the appropriate use of PPE and enhanced hygiene techniques.
Within key offices and communal areas (such as Receptions) plastic shields have been erected to ensure that staff can engage safely with anyone who enters their rooms or areas.
The College’s Covid-19 Risk Committee has also produced a policy guidance on the Management of Suspected Cases as well as an Outbreak Plan. As part of the management of any suspected cases, the College has created an Isolate Zone, where suspected cases can be isolated and managed away from the main student and staff body. Thankfully, the College is large (60,000 sq. ft.), so social distancing and creating isolate zones is much easier than for many schools and colleges.
Furthermore, the College also uses its extensive network of high quality digital cameras to track and check student and staff movements in 95% of the common areas of the College. Staff have been fully briefed as to the measures the College has taken, and what to do in certain circumstances. We have a highly effective internal COVID update-communicate process as part of our internal communications.
The College is audited and inspected daily by a senior member of the COVID-19 risk committee and student and staff behaviour is carefully observed to ensure compliance with basic rules and regulations.
The College has set up a dedicated email (firstname.lastname@example.org) that is available for all students and staff to ask questions and alert the College to any issues or concerns they may have.
Technology Solutions and live streaming
The College has invested heavily in, and installed in classes, high resolution cameras so that live streaming of classes can take place. In addition, all staff have access to high quality headset microphones to ensure that all sound is captured and conveyed to students. Teachers are sharing notes and PPs via Zoom and all those students who are remote can see the class teacher and experience all aspects of the class activities. Notes and additional resource materials are made available either through direct email or via Google classrooms and/or Microsoft Teams. Where a teacher is absent or has to self-isolate owing to another member of their family being suspected or having Covid, the teacher can teach the students via live streaming into the classroom so students are never denied full access to the curriculum.
Following a detailed risk assessment, the College has produced a Policy Guidance document to ensure a COVID-19 safe and secure working environment for all students, staff and visitors to the College. The College is now open for the new academic term and will make adjustments based on the government advice. The Policy Guidance is a consultative document and subject to change depending on prevailing scientific advice.
David Game College takes the safety of all those who visit and work within the College extremely seriously. This Policy Guidance document has been approved (as a working document) by our Advisory Governance Board and will be implemented from August onward.